Future Perfect – on involment in growth regions

Open Dialogues future perfect
I spent a delightful second weekend of August speaking at Future Perfect, a festival for cross-disciplinary dialogue on sustainable future(s) located at the island of Grinda in the Stockholm archipelago. At the roundtable discussion I was invited to in the pre-dialogue, I was in with Therese Engstöm  (Sime Non-Profit) Shawn Westcott (Impact Invest), Bill Peduto (Mayor of Pittsburgh), and John Manoochehri (Future Perfect’s founder) on how to build a sustainable growth region and thinking on what can be done for Pittsburgh to attract and maintain talent.

My suggestions were as follows in an extended version:

• Coding is the new literacy (enabling).
Adapt code as a language in school from class 1. Everyone should have the chance to learn  the very basic functions of a practical (coding) language, a knowledge need for whatever you pursue later in life. Everything will have elements being built and created by code, just look and think of the internet of things, and of the things you use daily; they all contain tech. Everyone should be given the privilege to have the choice to pursue coding as a language.

Even though there are brilliant initiatives such as Kiddshackday.com it’s still a private initiative that (only) benefits the children with enthusiastic parents. On the national level of every country the government should step in and make sure that every kid has the possibility to learn,  as we don’t know where the next Einstein will come from – a privileged area or not. Conclusion: coding is the new literacy for the decades to come.

The US GeekGirlMeetup is looking froward to do a joint venture GeekGirlMeetup event in Pittsburgh later this year or in the following spring.

• Involving everyone – (diversity involvement on grassroots levels)
To maintain a nation’s innovation strength that leads to growth, we need to have a diverse uptake of ideas. Having women’s ideas being a contributor to the industry is of crucial importance. Increasing the numbers of women working within tech, development and entrepreneurial roles (the STEM area) is first and foremost accomplished by elevating role-models that already exist. There is of course no easy fix, or a single answer on how to go about it, but rather a collaborative effort over boundaries of education leadership, governmental efforts, and non-profit and private actors.

I was once told that a culture takes 30 years to change. It seems clear to me that if we are dependent on this change to happen, and we really want results, we need to commit and take the challenge into a long term perspective.

Why coding is so important that it should be seen as a school subject like a language, is for inclusion of everyone, like stated in the paragraph above, involving kids from all areas of a city, and including women – especially women. 

• The UI of Growth – citizen (user) involvement
As a UI/UX-designer my job is to think about people’s behavior and  about how to make people feel smart. When people ask me what that means I try to describe to people that when they are using their  ____ (insert internet service of choice) and they get angry or confused because they don’t understand what to do, then I have failed in my profession. When a service works seamlessly and makes you feel like it’s a piece of cake, then I’ve done a good job as an interaction designer or user experience designer.

If we are to apply the same thinking to our surroundings: in a society the users are called citizens, and social-innovation is the impact that we’re looking for instead of a fancy new site or app. If the user or citizen is to be empowered, the result is benefits that all citizens can use.

When technology provides an arena (previously less accessible due to cost or availability) to act and create possibilities where feedback loops between government and citizens exist this opens up for an amazing dialogue.

That’s how politicians/governments have the possibility to think too: “How can we make this easier for people to live amazing lives, build growth businesses, and create sustainable and growth regions, and live happy and healthy lives”.

Due to having lived in many countries where systems function differently and with different perks and quirks, I have learned to see that there are no perfect systems. However, there exist smooth ways to including citizens in social innovation, for example Sweden has Vinnova (Sweden’s innovation Agency) similar to the UK’s NESTA who are both governmental organs supporting the nations to include and make it possible for entrepreneurs and organizations to innovate. Spending time in the US, this works a bit differently as the private sector often pushes money into the innovation sector. But we need to remember that the base of Silicon Valley was not built on only private investors’ investment. Silicon Valley was supported by the government in the early 1950s as the US was racing Russia to the moon with great enthusiasm for the future. I’m not quite sure where that went; do we need an enemy to keep up our enthusiasm?  (If you haven’t read Peter Thiel’s excellent book “From Zero to One” that is out in September, pre-order a copy here. Thank you Dinelle for the gift!).

“What we know Silicon Valley to be today, a land of startups didn’t just magically appear out of no where, the region has had so much money pushed in to it, beyond belief.”
– Paula Graham, Flossie. (This quote was picked up at a talk we both did at G.Hack Thursdays Club at Goldsmith University, London)

Setting up an innovation and co-creation process starts with including a wide variety of people representing society and anyone who wants to participate in the value chain. When many have a possibility to participate, we create a society where citizens take responsibility as they know that they can impact their everyday life and surroundings. 

PhD Eric von Hippel describes this well in his book “Democratizing Innovation” even if from a more commercial perspective. It all starts by understanding the user and that starts with  a communication unafraid of being wrong and with out accusation towards any of the parties. It starts with an open dialogue, where both parties are trying to understand the expert user and their aim for making thing better and discovering how to do this together.

What I take with me from the event where Future Perfect set the frame for creating an arena (both in smaller pro-dialogues and open dialogues) for dialogue on future sustainability very well during is that it doesn’t start from one actor in only the environment or the government. It takes strong  leaders unafraid to collaborate who are unafraid of potentially being wrong, looking beyond failures and quick wins for new answers and possibilities who are yet unknown to us. It should be possible, after all, we have sent people to the moon.

(Please note, I’m trilingual if not more, however, Im not a native english speaker. Excuse any blurs.)

Related:

•  Peter Thiel’s excellent book “From Zero to One” that is out in September, pre-order a copy here)
• Eric von Hippel’s book “Democratising Innovation”. A free PDF of it from MIT.

GeekGirlMeetup Stockholm #makeIT

As a founder that has worked with the internationalization of GeekGirlMeetup, one thing that strikes me is strong belief that we need a diverse uptake of ideas (womens ideas) to create the next Skype and Spotify. One way to get more women into the STEM/ ICT area is to elevate the fantastic women that are already out there. If you have ideas of how to help us with our mission please don’t hesitate to contact us to grow the network or to bring new ideas to the organisation and out to the society. And what better way, but to celebrate the wonders of technology by playing with it!

GeekGirlMeetup is themed “Make IT” this year at the Science museum in Stockholm Sweden on May 24-25th.

Sign up now for tickets and speaking and lets co-create an amazing weekend.

This year we will as the theme suggest be geeking-out in maker-culture. Expect 3-printing, hardware, trans-humanism, knitting workshops and manga-creation.
With speakers, maker and creators like Stockholm maker-space, Carin Ism, Robot-Robyn, Johanna Koljonen, Nina von Rüdinger we expect total geekdom-ness at the three threads of ‪#‎creativetechnology ‬‪#‎socialbusiness‬ and ‪#‎justepic‬. After-party at Spotify!

Like what you see? Our previous themes have been:

2008 The architecture of winning
2009 GAME ON
2010 Code is Queen
2011 We love API’s
2012 Beautiful Data
2013 Enter.Space
2014 Make it

GeekGirlMeetup is a un-conference for women in web, code and startups aiming to elevate female role-models, create new networks and active knowledge exchange.

Some articles:
• The Guardian – Four groups bringing women in tech together
 VentureVillage – Diverse groups make better products

I ♥ WebFest #webfestme

I am just back after spending a few brilliant days at the WebFest in Montenegro where I was invited by the host .me registy, CEO Predrag Lesic, after meeting in London at the SeedHack (SeedCamps financial hackathon) where I had won second place with the Saving app I am developing earlier this spring. We we had a chat about GeekGirlMeetup.com and I was later invited to speak at the WebFest 2012 about the international project that is now in Swede, Denmark, Mexico, London, Hong-Kong and from last week, Berlin,  aiming to create more female rolde-models in the startup scene.

WebFest 2012 delivered a wonderful line-up of startup and internet speakers – Intelligent, heart-full and enlightening talks. WebFest was a few days of pure excellence in Montenegro, with national and international speakers like Brian Wong (Kiip.me) and Ryan Wong (About.me) and Ruth Barr (seoMoz) as well as the local movers from the region Dejan Nikolić (Njuz.net aka The regiobal the Onion)Ivan Brezak Brkan (Netokracija).

Taking place at the Montenegro riviera, it was truly like the theme suggested – a webFest – A web conference to note in your calendar for next year. Here are some of the goodness i picked up:

Speaker Brian Wong – Kiip
Brian Wong shook us up properly with his reckless, endless energy and wild at heart talk about his startup Kiip.me.

The 21 year old Mr Wong finished college at 21, worked for Digg where he describes “being fired because he sucked at his job” after 4 months. Luckily he already had an idea, about a moment based advertising system targeting games, that would allow users that be rewarded for leveling up also getting freebies from advertisers, and advertisers only pay on collected freebies. Brian, bought Kiip.me and provides game developers with a system they can implement in between levels that allows players to get freebies when they level-up. The concept that generates over a 140 000  moments per month and growing has got be called genius as it is indeed revolutionizing the ad system.

Brian says, “Out of all the shit we have done as a human nation, from rocket launches to moon-landing, we have invented is a annoying banner that we place close to the important buttons on a n app. You should not pay to get rid of banners. As an (ad) industry you should understand you fugged if people are paying to make you go away.”

Brian continues: “Instead we created great moments of leveling up, instead of banners, we would give these moments of winning, where you already feel great even better by winning a freebie. We only work with big brands to give away trusted rewards.

We want to avoid the painful situation of the old advertising fake-win, when you get some thing free for an entry in an iPhone competition, all you do is sell your soul and end up giving away your credit-card number. Who wants that? We work with cost per engagement, with redeemed freebies. 75 cent which leaves about 50 cent to 1 dollar per redeemed action for the game makers. Its a win for everyone.

No one loves ad companies, we wanted to create something that people loved.”

Brian on entrepreneurship – I love being young, reckless, having endless energy operate properly after 40 hours with no sleep. You should abuse your body now – it’s the only time you can. It’s only age, it’s just a number. Being wild at heart is the most important thing, even older people under 40 who are wild at heart can and should inspire others.
You don’t wake up and say I’m going to being entrepreneur. I played Counterstrike when i was a kid, it made me a better designer, I had perfect mouse precision. I ripped psd, (no twelve year old can pay for psd), then started doing design for others. I was doing something i was wired to do, also the world is constructed that what i do will help the world economy so there something for me to.

If you are starting a company to be entrepreneur, that’s wrong. Take what you know and create some value. Thats entrepreneurship.

Brians thoughts about anyone who is not in Silicon Valley.
You are not as entitled. Graduated graduate from Stanford with an ‘I deserve attitude’ is not very pleasant and it doesn’t mean they produce anything better. The ones that don’t believe deserve anything you try extra hard.
European startup economy has grown as you have revenue, user experience, basic but follow these principles as a european plan. Never mind the short cutters that build for three years with investment with out revenue, just never mind. Make money. Its been two years. I’ve have had at least 100 friends that have started companies and then they pick up and leave to go home. The ones that came there for the right reasons, you need to know it (your reason), if you know it you will succeed!

Here are #1 & #9 out of his points he talked about later, about building successful services.

Existing pattern of behavior #1 What do they(the users) already do? Where do you go when your really drunk?  McDonalds. People are already playing games, look at the the fuel band, it allows you to track your quantified self. Tracking what you are already doing. Karma, recently quietly acquired by Facebook, its similar to similarly to Wrapp, its a gifting app. I had a look at what people already do, and tried making that simple. When are people engaging in your product? Try to make an app that humans like, after all the user is a human being. Apple for example do this do this really well.

Build a story #9 Montenegro has a great story. With you creating good companies what you can do is amazing stories, they have to be shared, a thats how people relate to you, with a good story. You care about bringing the spotlight back. How to craft that story. How do we make it human. It all starts with Love.

Ryan Freitas (About.me)
Ryan Frietas is a previous UI/UX guy who has now moved to product after starting the About.me startup that recently got acquired by AOL.

Ruth Barr on SEO (SeoMoz)
Ruth Barr from SeoMoz gave a great talk on SEO, some affirmative (produce good constant and don’t bother with trix – the search engines will figure it out), and a lot of new info that i felt I can implement and use directly. This techy lady has the gift of gab, and a brilliant sense of humor. Slides provided here.

Startup Competition.
Seeing the regions present and deliver in the startup competition was a pleasure, as there is talent and ambition the region, it was a pleasure seeing the region come together support the winners with the startup competition, sending the winners to New York for 4 moths. Prizes are always going to be important as we do indeed need to reward and encourage the ambitious young entrepreneurs that work focused and ambitiously.

Thanks to
Also not to forget I am so thank for for the Webfest team for providing such a friendly and inviting culture at the WebFest as well being excellent hosts. I cant have asked for a more welcoming stay 🙂

Extra thanks to
Extra thanks for eminent company making my stay a wonderful experience to remember Predrag Lesic, Natasha, Masa Dickson, Mikele Neylon, Brian Wong, Ruth Barr, Ryan Freitas, Kelly, Ze Fontainhas.

The small stuff that makes the difference
Another thing that came to mind is the wifi quality. It’s given that if you have a web conference participants will expect to have wifi. Kraven/demands/ expectations of the wifi rises as web-conference participants usually have two devices, (phone and lap-top) so the wifi will be strained and if you can get in extra access points to support the quality every will be happy. The Splendid Conference Center delivered perfect wifi.
Wifi Points: 5/5.

Web Fest.ME is the largest regional Internet festival dedicated to the promotion and advancement of Internet and society in general. Web Fest .ME consists of on-line competition for the best website/web project and conference that brings together the world best-known experts from all areas of the web industry.

And then we went for a swim in the Adriatic sea

Finding new ways to give with Charity API’s

I recently started working on an autumn project with the the amazing team at TheGivingLab, an R&D department at a charity aiming to find new ways of giving with Charity API’s, a project funded by NESTA amongst others.

When it’s a given that chuggers (charity muggers) hasseling you on the street for a signup doesn’t really work, and neither does starving babies on posters, we need to go further than choosing between several old-fashioned ideas of giving, making place for contemporary ideas.

By early 2013 we aim to have 5 launched ideas proving that charity API’s is the way to go and we are inviting developers, designers, UI/UX and idea-creators to a series of Hack Days we are running this autumn.
We aiming to hack together asquirky and loving ideas as possible like last week we already worked with Windows8 Code Weekend and Dev4Good, read more about the ideas here.

TheGivingLab has 3 more hack days coming up this autumn, here are the confirmed ones:

  • Mark 13+14th of October in you calendar. Eventbrite - GeekGirlMeetup Hackathon with The Giving Lab
  • Games 4 Good, with TIGA (International Gaming Association) at Birmingham University 17+18th of November.
  • TheGivingLab Charity Hack days at GoogleCampus on the 24+25th of November. The Theme is #holidayHack Eventbrite - TheGivingLAB - Hackdays 24+25th of November

Links to the previous and already hosted Hackathons:


GeekGirlMeetup Stockholm – Beautiful Data

I am proud to host the seventh GeekGirlMeetup in Stockholm, Sweden on the 26+27th of May 2012. We have space for 250 women, 3 strands, Creative Business, Just epic and Social Business. As the theme Beautiful Data suggests, we will be digging into a lot of visualisations and understanding how to use graph databases and APi´s.

With talks like Ellen Sundh’s (Society46) “The Sound of football”, Caroline Dahl (Oxford) “Visualising Molecular Proteins” and much more, the days will be spent well, stretching what is possible to do with technology today.

I would recommend you to get a ticket for the two days (they are free, but you pay for your own lunch, 200kr) and its free for highschool students. It is however an event for women and girls only.

Thank you all dear co-workers, speakers and sponsors for making this happen, we love doing this with you. Looking forward to seeing you.

Proud to be a GeekGirl

Today I was on the Rättviseförmedlingens list of digital innovators, inventors and business leaders for co-funding GeekGirlmeetup.

It was wonderful to see Thérèse Mannheimer (Allbright, Lissly), Javeria Rizvi Kabani (Swedish Institute, ZeroSilence), Anna Oscarsson (GeekGirlMeetup Öresund, Kvittar), Pernilla Näsfors, Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder (internet independence and security) och Johanna Koljonen (SR, #TalkAboutIt) on the list.

All i can say here is thank you Lina Thomsgård for starting Equalisters. It alowwed us to create lists of alternatives to the prevailing norms that work! Way to go Lina, we´ve come a long way since that garage editorial room in 1995 at Brus as teenagers.

Rättviseförmedlingen is called Equalisters in English. Equal for equality, and listers for all the people who contribute to the massive lists that we compile of people who can serve as alternatives to prevailing norms. [Read more here]

Originate ads 250 000 SEK during Startup weekend

GGM11 Game On.

Startup Sweden and Originate throw a ‘Startup Weekend’ event this weekend (Dec. 2-4).  They  just added a grand prize of a 250000 SEK investment in the form of development time!

They would really love to have more women entrepreneurs at the event, as they’re rather underrepresented right now. Girls and women, geeks of the industry, hope to see you there! People who don’t have a team yet are welcome too!

More info can be found at http://weekend.startupsweden.com/ or they can email me at garrett.dunham@originate.com.

London calling + SkrivaPå = Scrive.com

. I’ve moved to London.

. I´ve joined the Stockholm based startup SkrivaPå.se to internationalize the service with the new name Scrive, opening up the London Office, yet we are still a highly boot-strapped, lean start-up developing in Haskell. SkrivaPå & Scrive.com do digital signatures for contracts and legal-papers.

I first met lead-developer Gracjan Polak, while presenting my last startups RunAlong API at Disruptive Code conference in Stockholm autumn 2010 (post from Programmable web). The Startup community is Sweden is a close knitted newtork and we know eachother, and here was this new guy asking excellent questions, who was he?
Gracjan Polak, the Polish technical co-founder of SkrivaPå, introduced me to the Swedish founder and Stockholm School of Economics student Lukas Duczko. We ended up talking all evening about API´s, scrum, web-strategy, and how to manage distributed teams and other fellow founders startup-issues.

As we continued talking  about business and strategy during autum 2010 and spring 2011. To make a long story short, i moved to London, the UK working on opening up the RunAlong.se API publicly, and letting go of that for a bit. Lucas was fast to ask me to join SkrivaPå, after all the discussions i knew the product well, understood the business model and had no doubt when i said yes to working with this garage startup.

The fun part that i discover what it is like working with a highly effective distrubuted team. Scrive has 3 people working in Sweden, 3 in Poland, 3 in London, one in Turkey, and one travelling. We have things like the Tibetan Patches, pieces of code that our developer Eric Normand wrote in Tibet and Xian, and pushed up to the dev server when accessing wifi in the Himalayas. How wonderful insn’t that. Let me put it this way, i feel like I work for the most modern startup i can ever imagine, giving co-workes and co-owners freedom to do what they love.

As part of my work with Scrive i can also continue my work with GeekGirlMeetup.com, an un-conferance about web, code and startups aiming to create more female role-models in tech, new networks for women in tech and active knowledge exchange. Conclusion, Scrive gives GeekGirlMeetup.com an active sponsorship, it’s the first of the organisations sort.

Week 6: New Egypt Now

(Image from Fffound)

It was only a few moths ago I was visiting Egypt with the Swedish Institute giving a talk on the internet being the infrastructure for change for young leaders, journalist and changemakers. I was invited again to give a talk on GeekGirlMeetup for the SheEntrepreneur program, a mentorship program with entrepreneurs from the MENA region initiated by the Swedish Institute.

My adept, sadly enough did not have the opportunity to show up, but i had a chance to meet interesting women from the region, that put a strong perspective on their (and my) everyday entrepreneurship.

During the last evening presentations Mubarak stepped down, and it was an emotional moment, without a doubt. The girls called it New Egypt, im from New Egypt.
That night was the entreprenuers freedanced. And like we say at the Kaospilots, if I can’t dance its not my revolution.

Young Swedish Entrepreneurs on the rise.
This was not the only young entrepreneurs i met this week. I also had the priviledge of being invited to DAC (Digital Arts Center) to be on a panel for the future bright minds of tomorrow in IT, presenting their ideas. With Peter Sandberg aka @poppetotte from Disruptive.nu and a few others we had the chance to give them feedback on ideas and presentations. Thank you, it was very inspiring!

(Image from Fffound)

Week 51 Radio + Illustrated thoughts

After giving a talk at the incubator Aturn, I recieved a mindmap illustration of my talk, made by Pernilla Karlsson at AddGender. It made me think of the power of images and the importance of illustrating your thoughts, to keep visions, dreams and goals clear and focused. Thanks Pernilla, highly apreshiated!

I was also happy about being invited to Studio One, to portrait RunAlong.se and GeekGirlMeetup at Radio P1. It doesn’t get much better than P1, still i did enjoy being inteviewed at P3 Kultur with Johanna Koljonen a while back.

Weekly post in Nya Affärer, Running Business was focused on “how little is enough”.

Christmas goodies:

  • And a litte eyecandy for the easier infograpghics, Google Demo Slam: Epic Docs Animation.
  • One of the most Tweeted about in Denmark, GeekGirlmeetup CPH.